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Old 02-18-2005, 12:09 AM   #1
Jaregarde
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First off, let me say that I've never been involved in the making of a MUD, just in playing one. Now, though, I'm sort of considering making my own MUD, so I'd like to hear some of your opinions on this subject(I'm sorry if I'm repeating another topic but to the best of my ability I couldn't find one).

Well, I'll try and phrase this question as best I can. How do you implement realistic elements without just making them an inconvenience? By 'realistic elements' I mean things like permanent character death and other such things that are generally good for RP but potentially annoying for players. I would especially like to point out 'channels', or other means of player communication without a believable IC justification. I can see how decisions for these things would be tricky considering that roleplaying and convenience are two elements that need to be balanced for a good player experience.

Another thing I've noticed that can cause problems is a system in which killing mobs is the only reliable means of gaining experience and power. I recall in Achaea (the only MUD I play) not too long ago, many adventurers were accused by visitors from another plane of hunting innocent villagers. It was a bit difficult to roleplay since nearly everyone hunted one group of mobs or another. (By the way, I don't mean to accuse you of anything, the_logos) But then again, since I haven't really played any other MUDs for very long at all, I don't know how other systems of advancing in power have worked and whether or not they've been successful.

Well, I hope my question was clear enough, and I'll be grateful to hear the opinions of any of you.
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Old 02-18-2005, 05:25 AM   #2
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How do you implement realistic elements without just making them an inconvenience?
I'd suggest a different mindset.  Rather than trying to create realistic features while avoiding making them inconvenient, try thinking up fun and interesting features and then try to design them in a realistic way.

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By 'realistic elements' I mean things like permanent character death and other such things that are generally good for RP but potentially annoying for players.
Decide the benefits you want of such a system - what good points is it going to offer?  What does it add to the game?

Then think up the bad points that such a system might have - what aspects of it would detract from the gameplay?

For example, perhaps the main advantage you seek from the permadeath system is the ability for PCs to permanently remove each other from the plots and stories - so the king can't just respawn after being assassinated, for example.  You might then decide that the disadvantage of the typical permandeath system is that the player loses all the work they've put into the game.

Can you remove the character from the storyline without discarding all of the player's work?  Yes - you could allow the player to carry over their efforts to a new character.

Of course some people consider the loss of work to be an advantage, adding to the danger factor.  It really depends on your personal goals and objectives.

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I would especially like to point out 'channels', or other means of player communication without a believable IC justification.
What's the advantage of global channels?  They help foster a social atmosphere, are useful for players who get stuck or lost, allow people to ask for help and suggestions, etc.

What's the disadvantage?  It's not realistic for the characters to be able to communicate in such a way?

Can you have global channels without giving the characters an unrealistic means of communication?  Yes - you could tie the channels into the theme (mobile phones, telepathy stones, etc), or base them on account name rather than character name, etc.

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Another thing I've noticed that can cause problems is a system in which killing mobs is the only reliable means of gaining experience and power.
The main advantage of having only one path of character progression is that it takes less time to implement and is much easier to balance - that means more time to spend developing other parts of the mud.

Of course the disadvantage is that players are forced to perform a specific action.  The wizard can't become more powerful by studying ancient books, the healer can't improve his arts through complex medical procedures, and the thief can't master his methods through covert operations - they are instead all required to chop up monsters.

One of the more common methods used by RP muds to get around this problem is skill-based advancement, whereby skills improve through use.  Your sword skill improves from using a sword, your medical skill from healing people, your steal skill from sneaking around, and so on.

Note: The off-topic posts have been moved to the Tavern.
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Old 02-18-2005, 07:30 AM   #3
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I'm going to give an opinion on permadeath here which I have thought would be interesting for a while. In many MU*s that i've played, death is the end; there is sometimes some limited codework on the afterlife or somesuch, I think Materia Magica sends you to some underworld style spirit plane thing for a while after you die, etc. However, in a fantasy environment (That's the kind of MUD we're talking about here, right?) you can give so many other options to a player when they die. I'm going to go ahead and take the king being assassinated example KaVir gave as my example, too.

So, some sexy looking band of female assassins has murdered the king. A first option comes into play which many MUDS have incorporated as a spell; ressurection. It's pretty much a staple spell of any MUD that has a healer/cleric class or some twist upon that. About five hours after death whilst the player of King is floating around limbo or something, he is drawn back into the realm of the living by his advisor come cleric, much to the joy of the panicked pair of maids who discovered him dead in his bed.

Sexy looking band of female assassins strike again, but it is too late for ressurection; the king was on a hunting expedition and it took several days for the body to be discovered, only to find it in a rotted state. Burial follows. Little does the King realize that his beloved Queen practices a little necromancy in her spare time, and a few moons later she raises him as a sentient undead, what kind could depend upon her spells. The King could go and kill himself in disgust of what he has become, or continue to run the kingdom, become embittered (if thats a word) over his transformation and become a cruel and evil tyrant, or whatever, but it would make for some interesting roleplay anyway.

Sexy looking band of female assassins strike once more, and the corpse rots almost entirely before it is found, making raising it again impossible. Impossible to return fully to the land of the living, the king must make a choice after being in limbo so long; to desperately cling on to the remnants of his life and return as a spirit, or to pass on to the afterlife. If he clings on, he returns to where his corpse is, flagged as (invisible), (ethereal)*, and uh, he can't pick up stuff etc. He can only contact those who can see him. As such, perhaps you would deign to have some exotic warlock in some distant place that could help spirits regain life in return for finding specific items or whatever, but it'd be very difficult and time consuming... or just not implemented if you wanted total permadeath with no chance at all of coming back fully.

*ethereal being that he can pass through doors and stuff, seen as how he can't turn doorknobs.

And then there's the afterlife, so much you could do there. Have your immortal staff leave players floating in limbo until one of you can judge where to send them. Have a negative realm exactly like the real one in all respects except for it's.. negative. All sorts. This all depends on how much you're willing to advance this one aspect of the game, though. My point is, even with permadeath, you can still make the game interesting for a player after they've died. That way it doesn't seem like all their hard work is lost, which I think is a facet of why permadeath puts a lot of people off. And it can be realistic at the same time! Evvverybody wins.
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Old 02-18-2005, 09:45 AM   #4
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Darkskellig - I think that's one of the best posts about permadeath I have read in a long time. It definitely has me thinking of the options I could implement.

Jaregarde, I'll think your question over more, and try and post some ideas as well after I get some sleep. Coming off a 12+ hour shift and I am tiiired!
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Old 02-18-2005, 12:33 PM   #5
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I'm going to sidestep the question of perma death, because I'm a proponant of you die, game over. I don't agree that you invest your time and when the pc dies you lose all your hard work. I mean you can't take that work out of the mud and spend it like money. The only thing you get is the enjoyment of the game. My enjoyment is heightened by the transential and ephemeral preciousness of of life, and the finality of death.

But anyway, the point is there's no way to give everyone exactly what they want. If you compromise too much your product becomes diluted. I think in the question of realism vs. inconvenience the answer should be, what is it I want to create, and what inconvience is necessary to realize that goal. If your audience is people who like perma death, then build to that audience.

Short answer: You can't please everyone.
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Old 02-18-2005, 02:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Feb. 18 2005,05:25)
I'd suggest a different mindset.  Rather than trying to create realistic features while avoiding making them inconvenient, try thinking up fun and interesting features and then try to design them in a realistic way.
I think it's worth pointing out that the issue isn't realism here. Realism (ie that which is would require removing all magic, dragons, orcs, other races, etc. Rather, the idea is to allow for immersion via internal coherency of design. It may seem like a semantic argument, and I suspect you guys really mean internal coherency rather than realism, but I think it's important to recognize the difference.

I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that unless you're running a MUD whose goal is simulation of something, you want to think up the systems first and then figure out what 'wrapper' to put around them in terms of in-game fiction.

Of course, it's also pretty clear that a lot of players (most probably) don't require anything approaching a perfect degree of internal coherency. For instance, global channels are simply accepted in nearly all the most popular MUDs. I remember running around Paragon City in City of Heroes, reasonably immersed (for a graphical MUD at least) in the world and having no issues with world-wide tells. Didn't impact my playing experience at all and I never heard anyone mention it as an issue.

I suspect that a large part of this is about setting expectations. Many or most MUDers expect to be able to communicate over distances. It's just part of MUDs to them, so there's nothing immersion-breaking to those players about having that feature with no extra explanation involved.

--matt
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Old 02-18-2005, 09:23 PM   #7
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I think it's worth pointing out that the issue isn't realism here. Realism (ie that which is would require removing all magic, dragons, orcs, other races, etc. Rather, the idea is to allow for immersion via internal coherency of design. It may seem like a semantic argument, and I suspect you guys really mean internal coherency rather than realism, but I think it's important to recognize the difference.
I think I understand what you mean...I guess I should have mentioned that what I would like to achieve is consistency. For example...let's pretend this is part of a background story for a Mud(and I'm just making this up of the top of my head):

"After the battle a messenger rode long into the night, heading to a distant city, the Bastion of Norstagorsonia, to personally inform the king of the glorious victory."

Of course, if this were in a Mud in which there are worldwide tells, for me at least it would pretty much destroy the whole concept. Why in the world would some guy ride a horse a long distance in the middle of the knight to talk to a king when he could just "TELL KING we won!"?

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And then there's the afterlife, so much you could do there. Have your immortal staff leave players floating in limbo until one of you can judge where to send them. Have a negative realm exactly like the real one in all respects except for it's.. negative. All sorts. This all depends on how much you're willing to advance this one aspect of the game, though. My point is, even with permadeath, you can still make the game interesting for a player after they've died. That way it doesn't seem like all their hard work is lost, which I think is a facet of why permadeath puts a lot of people off. And it can be realistic at the same time! Evvverybody wins.
Hmm...yes, I really like the idea of having dead characters who can still play. It would be awesome to give characters the options of dying and becoming ghouls or vampires or whatever. Of course you would need to have some sort of negative consequence so people don't just join the game and commit suicide so they can become undead. Has anyone tried this sort of thing with any success?

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I'd suggest a different mindset.  Rather than trying to create realistic features while avoiding making them inconvenient, try thinking up fun and interesting features and then try to design them in a realistic way.
I guess that's a good way to think of it; the only thing is I might end up with a feature that has a justification that seems less than genuine.

EDITED: 2/18/05 about 6:30 pacific time; accidentally posted before I was finished writing.  
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Old 02-19-2005, 07:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by (Jaregarde @ Feb. 19 2005,03:23)
I guess I should have mentioned that what I would like to achieve is consistency.
Within a mud context, "realism" is usually synonymous with internal consistency within the laws of reality for the setting.

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"After the battle a messenger rode long into the night, heading to a distant city, the Bastion of Norstagorsonia, to personally inform the king of the glorious victory."

Of course, if this were in a Mud in which there are worldwide tells, for me at least it would pretty much destroy the whole concept. Why in the world would some guy ride a horse a long distance in the middle of the knight to talk to a king when he could just "TELL KING we won!"?
I've recently been reading the Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan. In that setting, magicians are able to telepathically communicate with each other, but prefer not to because they can often accidently give away more than they intended, and cannot lie (or be tactful, etc). In addition, it's possible for other people with magical ability to listen in on the conversations, making it a very poor way to communicate secrets.

If such a rule were applied to the example you gave, then I could think of many reasons why the messenger rode back. Perhaps the king refuses mental communication (not wanting to give away secrets), or maybe the messenger needs to bring physical proof that the task is complete (the head of the enemy leader). Maybe there are still enemy magicians in the king's court who might use the opportunity to their advantage, and thus the king wants to have some time to prepare before they find out. Maybe an enemy kingdom is just waiting for one neighbor to defeat the other, so that they can move in and defeat the winner while they're still weak - and the telepathic communcation could tip them off.

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Hmm...yes, I really like the idea of having dead characters who can still play. It would be awesome to give characters the options of dying and becoming ghouls or vampires or whatever.
If they become something else, then you're basically talking about permadeath with a second chance. The problem with the afterlife is that unless it's really fun, most players will just be annoyed by it - they'll just see it as something that prevents them getting back into the action. On the other hand, if the afterlife is too much fun then players will hang around there and not bother coming back to the world of the living.
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Old 02-19-2005, 11:28 AM   #9
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I like the idea about the undead guy. What if he was raised as a corpse, but he lost a lot of strength and people would be afraid of him. He would have to take to the forests and hunt the other races as an NPC type monster, only more cunning and all because of that brain behind the screen. Now that's the kind of stuff I want to see.
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Old 02-19-2005, 05:51 PM   #10
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The problem with those sort of things is, they require very good RPers who are willing to accept disadvantages for the purpose of good roleplaying.

We recently had an event going on, and one player was complaining because it was "all just for RP"... isn't that sort of the point?
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Old 02-19-2005, 09:49 PM   #11
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I still like killing off player characters the old-fashioned way.  No raising from the dead, no nothing.  That way people will be a little more realistic in their character's behavior.  The same way I wouldn't go charging into a battalion of attacking soldiers because I'm not going to come out alive.
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Old 02-19-2005, 11:26 PM   #12
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This is a great thread, and goo dposts and advice guuys =D I personaly love realistic things in muds, however it does suck to loose hours/days/weeks/etc of work in a character death. And other such things. Muds where you can starve to death, etc are also pretty frustrating fo rthose who can't find food or create food... so I guess fun should always over power realism.
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Old 02-19-2005, 11:55 PM   #13
 
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Originally Posted by (Jaregarde @ Feb. 18 2005,21:23)
"After the battle a messenger rode long into the night, heading to a distant city, the Bastion of Norstagorsonia, to personally inform the king of the glorious victory."

Of course, if this were in a Mud in which there are worldwide tells, for me at least it would pretty much destroy the whole concept. Why in the world would some guy ride a horse a long distance in the middle of the knight to talk to a king when he could just "TELL KING we won!"?
Now assuming there is no telepathy, he wouldn't use the tell command. He would just as you say ride on to meet the king. Most role-playing games recognize at least two sets of commands. One set is used for interacting with the world (sometimes known as VR or IC commands) and the other set is for not interacting with the world (know as non-VR or OOC commands) Building, coding, note writing, maintenance, OOC communications are non-VR commands.

If you have telepathy or cell phones or whatever in your world then tell is a IC command. If not then tell is an OOC command.

Many role-playing muds mark this distinction in command set either modally or via special characters. Mush and MOOs have the tradition of using an @ in front of the non-VR command. Some cores allow one to switch modes between VR and non-VR such that the @ sign isn't necessary (or to use a different prefix) or some commands only appear in non-VR mode, edit mode, programming mode, building mode, etc.

For example:
VR commands - say sleep whisper
non-VR commands - @score @who @quit

Whoops - forgot to define VR it stands for virtual reality.
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Old 02-20-2005, 09:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Feb. 19 2005,05:46)
I think it's worth pointing out that the issue isn't realism here. Realism (ie that which is would require removing all magic, dragons, orcs, other races, etc.
this is something that has bugged me over a few various realism based arguments around here. Realism is subjective, it is based on the MU World, I play a Wheel of Time MUD, it is not GAME realistic for me to be able to talk over vast distances instantly, but thats very possible in the REAL world. A trolloc is not realistic in the REAL world, but its very very realistic in the game. An automatic 9mm handgun is not game realistic, but it is world realistic, I always like to assume that when people are asking about realism, they are talking game world realism, not real world realism.
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Old 02-21-2005, 02:59 AM   #15
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The key to implementing realistic elements, or really any elements for game play, is to do so in a way that provides the gamer with an inherent benefit.  If you implement an indepth crafting system, you need to give the crafted items worth so that the system gets used and is enjoyed.

One of the main elements of gameplay that are common discussion in muds is Permadeath, because of the nature of MUDs. Being multi-player environments usually with indepth Roleplay considerations I think your best route is to go with a Netherworld set up. Players die and go to the netherworld, they have a chance of being rezzed based upon Spell X, and Action Z.

Perhaps they can also do some semi-automated quests to return to the land of the living, either as a ghost, or as a living being, provided a body is readied for them. Perhaps being dead, they can communicating with those they bonded with via commands in the game. So they can help their relatives with advice from the grave, or some other facet which would add to the roleplay environment.  

Adding in a permadeath system, or like I said, really any system is pointless unless you try to consider the inherent benefits it gives to the player, and to the player environment. If people wanted Realism, they would pick up a butcher knife and go hack at strays. They want a consistent world that gives them inherent benefits for the choices and options they take.

I hope this helps give you a few ideas.

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Old 03-03-2005, 12:02 PM   #16
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Realistic elements.
I'm writing my own MUD for some time now (though probably i'm never gonna finish it) so Ive been thinking about the topic much lately.
First, I dont think realistic elements are inherently inconvenient, its more how people implement them. Now it seems to me they fail most of the times.

Lets take an example of need for food. The common scenario in existing MUDs is: A day duration is from an hour to few hours realtime, designers assume your character should be getting hungry several times an ingame day, so players end up bothered with 'u are hungry' message every few minutes. Not to mention the cases when not eating for 2 hours realtime makes your character starve to death. Its inconvenient but no more realistic than not having to eat at all. Its stupid when u have to look after your game character more carefully than of your own real life belly.

But i am still planning to include need for eating in my MUD (which probably will never be finished) like this:
For me the most important thing about eating is that it introduces upkeep cost - which is very important if i want to set up somewhat working economy system. For that purpose its enough if food is eaten automaticaly straight out of the inventory (or from your appartment storage - im considering this being done every 24 rl hours or so regardless of character being online - but not sure, thats still a long way to go) but leave the possibility to eat manually. Only negative effect of starvation would be reduction of physical abilities and tiredness. (And what about the yo-yo effect, you could grow fat trying to regain abilities fast, well nevermind, just a quick thought)

Permadeath - a must for me.
It works in RL and in fact its why life is so precious thing. (well, some believe theres no permadeath in rl, but thats another story)
Much has been said on the topic.
My 3 cents on why da #### current game systems give out details on other players so easily.

example 1: straight childish hack'n'slash
>l Manitas
>He's a level 3 bard (see? kick his butt! youl gett a lot of XP)

example 2: Serious grown up RPI
>l Man
>You see a black haired man.
>He looks like he knows crap, looking at his right knee you can say he can fight like a granny (kick him..)

Well, I wouldnt do that.

The last thing on PD - I think it should always be accompanied by unrestricted PK - this will allow players constitute their own laws on that matter and execute it.

The final thought on realism: I think a game should be designed with realism in mind from ground up. If you just add a few realistic features here and there they probably wont fit the rest - Thats why i started mine from scratch (but probably will never finish).

ps. please forgive my english, i'm really trying
ps2. funny - it censored the word for 'the place where your soul goes if you are a bad guy' i didnt even know it was abusive
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Old 03-03-2005, 01:10 PM   #17
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The last thing on PD - I think it should always be accompanied by unrestricted PK - this will allow players constitute their own laws on that matter and execute it.


LambdaMOO anyone?
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Old 03-04-2005, 07:17 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by (Manitas @ Mar. 03 2005,18:02)
For me the most important thing about eating is that it introduces upkeep cost - which is very important if i want to set up somewhat working economy system.
I'd suggest looking at it the other way around - you want to create a working economy system, therefore you want food to serve a purpose so that it becomes a valuable resource within that economy.

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For that purpose its enough if food is eaten automaticaly straight out of the inventory (or from your appartment storage - im considering this being done every 24 rl hours or so regardless of character being online - but not sure, thats still a long way to go) but leave the possibility to eat manually.
That doesn't add anything to the gameplay though - it just gives players additional upkeep (and money-drain) to worry about. It also doesn't give any incentive to the crafters to make anything other than the cheapest foodstuff possible, so even from an economic point of view all you're really gaining is one extra resource, and at the expense of annoying the playerbase.

If you want to introduce something like food then why not have it add something useful for the players? You could still leave it as optional (assume 'normal' eating is done in downtime), but allow crafters to create a range of edible products each with different bonuses and drawbacks. This would then create a demand for a range of different food types, and because it would be optional (and have drawbacks as well as bonuses) it wouldn't bother players who weren't interested in eating.

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My 3 cents on why da #### current game systems give out details on other players so easily.

example 1: straight childish hack'n'slash
>l Manitas
>He's a level 3 bard (see? kick his butt! youl gett a lot of XP)

example 2: Serious grown up RPI
>l Man
>You see a black haired man.
>He looks like he knows crap, looking at his right knee you can say he can fight like a granny (kick him..)
Whether or not a mud is "childish" or "serious grown up" has nothing to do with whether or not the numbers are displayed - and the value of such information really depends on the sort of mud you're developing and the style of gameplay you're trying to promote. Revealing numbers rewards player intelligence and encourages strategic thinking, while concealing those numbers discourages such activity. If you're trying to design a game where combat is discouraged and playing skill is more associated with the character than the player, then hiding such information from the player may be useful, but it won't make your mud any more 'grown up' - any more than making someone play a chess game in which they couldn't see which piece was which.
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:33 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by (KaVir @ Mar. 04 2005,07:17)
I'd suggest looking at it the other way around - you want to create a working economy system, therefore you want food to serve a purpose so that it becomes a valuable resource within that economy.
Thats exactly what i been trying to mean. Looks like i failed - happens when i try to write in a foreign language.
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That doesn't add anything to the gameplay though - it just gives players additional upkeep (and money-drain) to worry about.
The purpose of this is i want to add something that players really need ingame - in current implementations you dont need to gain xp at any given moment - you can do that later anytime. You dont really need money and stuff - you can choose to spend all your gamelife just standing in one room and chatting with bypassers or doing nothing. My opinion is that people do things because they need something, see even Diogenes needed a barrel to provide shelter. One of the things i want to achieve is a motive for players to do things,something to keep things spinning.
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It also doesn't give any incentive to the crafters to make anything other than the cheapest foodstuff possible
Even the cheapest food possible will have the annoying tendency to scram as soon as it realizes your presence - so the hunters will be most involved in food production process. I dont even think ill make cooking into a skill, but there will definitely be reasons to process the food:
catch a fish - youll be able to eat it the day after if you are lucky
hunt a deer - you can smoke or cook the meat an then eat it even a week later if you're not too choosy.
salt and dry the meat - and its not gonna rot away for a long time.
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Originally Posted by
all you're really gaining is one extra resource, and at the expense of annoying the playerbase.
Well if thats true that it is annoying to go obtain or buy some food every few realtime days i should immediately stop what im working on now. But i still hope its not the case. I just can't imagine working economy without real upkeep cost. Maybe im just not imaginative enough, but who's perfect anyway. But i'm almost sure that systems where things come from nowhere (like coins from mob corpses, or free energy to live) will cause problems at some points. Take combat deadlock from the other topic. In the world where fighting uses some form of energy deadlock will never occur, cause at least one of the combatants will eventually get too tired to continue, even if both are dumb enough to not to realize the fight is pointless.
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Originally Posted by
If you want to introduce something like food then why not have it add something useful for the players?
Im not comfortable with that idea, or maybe would the ability to develop further fall in the category 'something useful'?

Last thing about the 'childish' and 'grown up' from my previous post - i was trying to show my distance towards such a stereotypes. I should have enclosed the terms in qotation marks. I failed again, sorry if anybody felt offended, hope to be forgiven.
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